Dawn's Reviews > The Complete Poems

The Complete Poems by Anne Sexton
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's review
Dec 14, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: poetry, literary
Read from February 14 to March 30, 2016

I like Sexton's work, but I can't find myself comparing it favorably to Plath's. I've always been a Plath girl--I just didn't indulge in the black hair dye and raccoon eyeliner. Plath's work strives toward perfection, while much of Sexton's work seems repetitive and intended to shock. I recognized the Berryman influence right away, and I think his illness spoke to hers, because they both seemed to tread similar ground.

That said, I adored the Transformations poems, every last one of them. I just started rereading Grimm's Fairy Tales, and each one is familiar for her reworking and illumination.

The final poems made me very sad, because I felt as though I were watching her crack apart and scramble desperately to gather her pieces together. Much of the later works had a frustrated feel, as though she wanted to articulate something very complex, but the words kept getting in her way.

I wonder now whether she was bipolar and what a modern diagnosis might have done for her.

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Reading Progress

02/14/2016 marked as: to-read
02/14/2016 marked as: currently-reading
02/18/2016 page 16
2.0% "Keep in mind I also read introductions and forewords and the like, and those pages are usually roman numeralled." 2 comments
03/28/2016 page 569
86.0% "Reading the posthumous poems now, which don't have the benefit of her meticulous, obsessive polishing. Interesting, but often repetitive."
03/30/2016 marked as: read
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